Agriculture 4.0: How digital farming is revolutionizing the future of food (cover story PDF)

For this TechRepublic cover story, Teena Maddox investigates how self-driving tractors, precision farming, and Internet of Things sensors are quantifying agriculture in vast new ways.

This download provides the magazine version of the article as a free PDF for registered TechRepublic and ZDNet members. The online version of this story is available here.

From the story:

In Tennessee, the owners of a farm dating back to the mid-1800s are changing how they grow food in dramatic ways. Drones, satellite imagery, and precision farming are part of the technology being used to improve costs, yield, and other key factors at the 2,500-acre Crafton Farms in Portland, TN.

Technology is changing the world, and farming is catching up. The introduction of everything from automated farm equipment to a wide array of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors that measure soil moisture and drones that keep track of crops have changed the business of agriculture. Some experts even call this movement “Agriculture 4.0″—a term used by the World Government Summit.

A digital farm is more efficient and sustainable than its counterparts of the past. On a smart, digital farm, crops are likely grown using precision agriculture, tractors might be self-driving, the harvest could be determined by digital imagery of the fields, and the farmer is typically working with an agronomist to provide technology know-how.

Some of the places leading the revolution include:

At Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, the Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE) is constantly assessing better ways to farm to increase yields and improve efficiency, with sensors collecting 1.4 petabytes of data daily.

Land O’Lakes is sending out technology specialists from its subsidiary, WinField United, to show co-ops such as Crafton Farms in Tennessee better ways of farming.

Indoor farms such as Plenty in San Francisco and Jones Food in Europe are farming on vertical racks in massive indoor facilities that significantly reduce the carbon footprint needed to grow food.

Download the PDF to read the rest of the story.

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